Monday, February 23, 2015

Ebon Week 2: February 23, 2015

There are a lot of mosquitos so my legs are covered in bites. Here on Ebon our house is nice and we have a solar plane so we have light but we can't charge anything. Also, the food we have access to is rice, ramen and flour. All is well through there is a to of free time here because not everyone has light so the day ends at 7:00 when it gets dark.

The week started off with me attempting to fish on P-day. I didn't catch anything; I was fishing with line wrapped around a PVC pipe. The ocean here is bright clear blue with white sand beaches and palm trees. It really is paradise.

Work here is a lot harder. The Protestant Church has a strong hold. Ebon was the first of the Marshall Islands with missionaries and to accept Christianity in 1857. Marshall Islands is also a Matriarchal society so wherever the oldest woman in the family goes to church, the rest of the family goes. People can be scared to study because they are somewhat ostracized by the rest of the island.

Wednesday, Elder Wilson and I went down to an island, where on of our investigators is temporarily to harvest coconuts. She decided to cook for us so we basically were with her until we had to go back because of the tide. She cooked us crab, rice, and boiled breadfruit (which is the best kind). It was good, but because we had to cross a few islands we spent like 2 plus hours to get down there and so it ended up being a 6 hour process. What's really cool is she has the boat near her house that a fisherman from Mexico drifted all the way here on. Look up on the news, it's a pretty cool story.

I am doing well. I am currently reading in the New Testament so I am learning a lot more about Jesus and who he is. My knowledge of the gospel continues to grow. Marshallese is good; I understand it most of the time. My grammar and vocab is good but my pronunciation still sucks to it can be hard because some people don't understand or what's worse is is people pretend to understand me. Elder W is good but he kind of treats me too much like a junior companion. Also, he wants to play Yu-Gi-Oh all the time which is lame because he studied all the cards and so I just lose after only a few turns.


Elder Weenig

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ebon Week 1: February 16, 2015

Mom's Note: Yesterday we received 15 letters from Spencer. He has been serving in the outer island of Ebon and we have not heard from him since his last email the first week of February. We are excited to FINALLY hear how he is doing. He has been writing every week, but the mail service there is nonexistent. We had to wait till the "plane was fixed" and his companion could be transferred to the main island before we received his letters. 

Week One:


We flew into Ebon Thursday and I am working with Elder "W". W is from Provo and it is the last six months of his mission. He is way nice and cool, just a bit awkward at times.

Wednesday before I left we had combined Zone Conference, which means all of the missionaries in the main island of Majuro attend. The mission does them overtime a group of missionaires go home. This time, after the missionaries departing bore their testimonies, we watched "Meet The Mormons". That was way good. The Mission President and I were casually talking and he told me a story about being over a SEAL team. He's also been in the helicopter business and sold a lot to the Middle East. Zone Conferences are really fun and I was glad I could go before I left.

Thursday morning I flew into Ebon. While I was waiting in the airport, these women found out I was going to Ebon and one woman asked if I could take her child with me. I asked the APs and they just told me "Am Wot Bebe" or "Your Choice" so I flew with the child. They plane was tiny, it only had 10 seats and we landed on a grass field with the smallest part a little over 10 feet. The child slept the whole time and i just gave him to his aunt who was waiting. I exchanged with Elder "S", who was the elder in my intake, and took a boat across the lagoon to the main island, Ebon, Ebon. The atolls here are almost all alike...just a bunch of islands surrounding a lagoon with the bigger ones being most populated. Ebon is tinier than I thought with little more than 300 people on the main part, the majority being children. Basically, there is no one on the island between the ages of 12 and 30. There is no middle school or high school so all the kids go to Jaluit. All of the younger adults go to college or look for jobs in Majuro. The amount of people emigrating from the Marshall Islands is significant due to not enough job opportunities.

Work here in Ebon is much slower. Mostly everyone knows the missionaries and quite a few have already studied the gospel before. It makes it kind of difficult and a lot of time is spent just casually talking. On Sunday, one guy halfway through the lesson we were giving told us he is already a member. It can be a little discouraging.

Our house is also where we hold church. We have 28 people who come which is pretty good but only 8 of them are actually adults. I get to be the Primary teacher which is fun but Marshallese kids can be really annoying.

Ebon is really beautiful and I am excited to be working here and also pick up missionary work.


Elder Weenig

Monday, February 9, 2015

Off To The Outers: EBON

I will be heading out to the outer island of Ebon this week. I am really excited to go to an outer island but that means no communication and it will be a little like camping. Missionaries who have been to outer islands say it's a nice half way point between missionary work and camping. I will be out for the next 4 months or so and I will not have access to email but I do believe I can receive letters. 

I had a really great week. Currently Elder Angilau are studying with a lot of young couples. It's really cool they're looking for the truth and trying to do what's best for their families. I believe that young families are the people who really need the gospel and the church in their life's and in turn substantially build the church here in the Marshall Islands. One of our investigators,  Jeffrey, who've we just studied with this week alone is doing well. In our third lesson with him he just like told us hey I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet who can receive commandments today. It's amazing to see the change and some peoples faith change so fast. Quite a significant amount of people who study will just want to study every single day. Others progress a lot slower, but just being able to see the change the gospel and this church in people's life is one of the greatest things. 

Angilau and I have been able to meet with a lot of less actives this week as well. There is quite a bit of less actives here a lot of strong members can just lose their ways and it can be sad. I've seen a lot of people some past bishops and stake leaders just lost in the world. One that we went to go visit after a little small talk I just called him and his wife out basically. I looked at them and I asked "why aren't you guys going to church?" The man just replied "that is a really good question." Then went on to say how he knows the church is true and how he needs to come back. Sometimes being a missionary you just have to be bold and says what needs to be said. All of the Marshallese are Christian and know what's right and wrong so if they're doing something bad you just have to call them out and make them realize what they're doing. Calling someone can be hard because you don't want to come off as rude or like offend them but a lot of times it just needs to be said. A lot of times in missionary work and in life we just have to be straight up with people, however we need to do it with love and they'll understand. 

This church is really great and can really strengthen families and change people's life's. However the Satan works hard on those who knows its true and strong church members. We just have to be strong and stick do our faith. A lot of times keeping the commandments and enduring to the end can be difficult and a lot of times blessings come after what we do is right. I know this church is true and there are a lot of blessings in this church. Love you guys it's going to be hard to not communicate but I am doing to have a lot of cool stories to tell when I get back.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2, 2015: PDay in Ejit

This week was really good. We started off the week going to Ejit for p-day, Ejit is a smaller island in the lagoon and which you can wade from the end of the main island to it. It was fun we were getting coconuts and drinking them and also eating yu. Yu is like the inside of the coconut after it hardens it turns into like a sponge like texture. Marshallese people love but I personally think it just tastes like coconut flavored styrofoam. It only takes about 15 minutes to wade to Ejit, and it is in my proselyting area so Angilau were talking about going out there one day. It was really fun and just a good day to start off the week. 
Right now Elder Angilau and I and the other elders in the Rita ward are little by little raising the sea wall at the end of the island. The member's we are raising it for showed us how last year around this time the end of the island flooded a few feet. The crazy thing is that most people don't know what the Marshall Islands is and pretty soon it might disappear. The flooding has a lot to do with global warming and Marshall Islands is slowly sinking. It is weird to actually see the effects of global warming in real life and to be personally affected by it. 
Angilau and I were able to start studying with a guy in English this week. He's from Tuvalu which is half way between Tonga and Samoa. There is quite a bit of other races here there's a lot of Chinese, Filipinos and some people from Kiribati. There are some other white people but all of them either work for another church or teachers. It was nice being able to speak in English and it's cool because most of the foreigners don't really have interest in the Church. One of my investigators for this whole week we've studied will bring me his iPad and ask for me to help him with it. It's funny because he's 25 but he doesn't understand English so he doesn't know how to use it. It's good there's a few people out here with smartphones and so what I've been doing is getting them to download gospel library app. It's really cool because they like how they can read it in Marshallese. I think it's so cool how widespread and diverse the Church has become. 
One of our lessons we were studying with a woman about the Book of Mormon. She's a really solid investigator she will just be waiting for us outside her house every time we come by. As I was telling her about the references she just starts going to scriptures about the restoration in 1st Nephi 15:13-18 that talk about like grafting the branches to the olive tree. It was challenging to explain things already in English but the explain them in Marshallese. Luckily I have an iPod so I will like look up the scriptures and read them in English so I can better understand them. It can be hard because a lot of people expect missionaries to like explain scriptures and other things to them even a lot of church members ask for our help to understand things. 
Another guy that we are studying named Gabriel is doing really well. He used to drink a lot and use beetle nut. Beetle nut is basically this plant you chew to get high but it stains people's teeth bright red.

He's been studying with us and it's really cool to see the changes the gospel is making is his life as well as his girlfriend's and young daughter's. Angilau have seen him from like drinking at night to spending more and more time with his family. It's hard with him because he knows the church is true he's just scared to be baptized because he think he will backslide. Gabriel grew up in the church but was never baptized because his dad who was a former bishop apostatized from the Church. He is scared he will end up like his father and just screw up so it is hard to convince him he needs to be baptized. Little by little we are working on it and it is making a big impact in his life. 

Angilau and I have a lot of good people we are given the opportunity to teach with. A lot of people are very religious and accepting of the gospel. This place is great and full of God fearing people who are ready to accept the restored gospel. I am having a great time. The work can be hard but that's what makes it worth it.